Photo by Joakim Honkasal


I love a good photo contest. When these contest sites announce the winners, I am all over it. One of the latest I have seen is the one from the first black and white photo contest. CLICK HERE to see it. There are lots of other great sites to take a look at, and the reason I think every photographer should try entering a photo contest is how much it improves your photography.

Most of the time, first time photographers totally fail in winning any placement in the contest. But when you see the results, you wonder about the judges. You wonder why some photos were chosen. And of course you wonder why you didn’t even get an honorable mention. This is where you learn about winning photos, and perhaps why you should change yours up a little bit.


collection of old instant photos with trips
Photo by Lisa Fotios on

First of all, there are thousands of photographers who try their luck at winning a photo contest. Now picture what the judge wants to find in picking a winning photo. I have found that judges have a different taste in photography, so sometimes it’s very hard to win a photo contest because the judge they pick, may not have the same credentials as other judges. The best photo contests, I think, are the ones where more than 1 judge is the one deciding factor. So look for the ones that have multiple judges.


There is a lot of great photos to choose from. How does a judge pick the winners? I was asked to be a judge once with a County Fair. The photo competition was open to all photographers, professional and amateur. How do you pick these? Is the professional photographers going to win all the time?

Well the answers are interesting. 1- Those who think they are professional, sometimes aren’t good at all. They don’t follow any composition rules, and they think BIG pictures will help them win. It won’t work with me. 2- The judge will pick, usually by how well the photo tells a story. A special blog for just that: 3- If you think you aren’t going to win because you are going to up against professionals, you are wrong. A winner of a recent photo contest had just owned a camera less than a year, and was totally self-taught. (He must have been reading my blogs.).


Photo by Trollinho on Unsplash

Take a look at the winning photos and try to change your photography to look similar to the winning photos. Try new locations. Different people, focus on things no one else will photograph. Check out the sharpness of your photos. Is it totally sharp? What about composition? Do you know the rules to composition? ( CLICK HERE to read that information), learn how to critique your own photo. If you really think your photo was perfect, then try entering it again in another contest. You may have just run into a judge that was after certain criteria. But I would try a different photo idea.


If you fail at winning a photo contest, remember that it doesn’t mean you are a bad photographer, you just missed it with the judges. But, try to look over the photos that did win and try to figure out WHY those photos won. Then try again. I think a good photographer will win at some time, simply by trying, but when failing try to figure out why your photo didn’t win, and improve on it.

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